Announcing AVC 2014!

Announcing the date for the next SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition!

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If you've been immersed in your latest DIY project for the last couple weeks, you may have not noticed that the weather is officially starting to change and winter is right around the corner. If you're looking for a winter project, now is the perfect time to start working on your vehicle for AVC 2014!



That's right - today we are happy to announce the official date for the 2014 SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition will be June 21st, 2014. Once again the event will take place at Boulder Reservoir.

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There will be a few minor changes to the event from years past. First off, for the aerial competition - we're going to make it harder. You guys killed it last year, so we want to dial up the difficulty. How, exactly, we're not sure yet, but know we are going to make it a bit trickier. We are also going to create separate classes for fixed wing and quadcopters.

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Other than that, the event will stay relatively the same (rules wise). We have plans for an opening ceremony, some guest speakers and booths, and other awesome happenings for our signature event.

Sign-ups are not yet open - but we will make a post when you can officially register your team.

So mark your calendars and start building your bots - AVC 2014 is going to be a day to remember!

Comments 47 comments

  • SFUptownMaker / about 11 years ago / 6

    Disappointed that nobody took my suggestion to have a "space" class.

    Successful competitors loop around the ISS and return to a 10-meter-square landing zone.

    • Arrohbee / about 10 years ago / 1

      Since the venue is a reservoir, why not add a "nautical class?"

      Heck, you could then add a "triathlon class" for vehicles that can compete in all 3 (land, air, sea). Or, if nautical is out of the question, why not add a "biathlon class" for things that complete both the driving AND flying challenges?

    • What could possibly go wrong.

  • Member #489634 / about 11 years ago / 2

    It will be nice to have a mini sumo robot competition

    • Minuteman / about 11 years ago / 1

      Mini-sumo might be a fun side-competition. I plan to do the ground competition this year, but I do have a mini-sumo bot, and would enter it. It would be easy to setup and run, and it's fun for the kids.

  • jremington / about 10 years ago / 1

    Does anyone know if President Obama will be entering a drone?

  • Member #435690 / about 10 years ago / 1

    I would love to go, but i live to far away....... :(

  • NightPhoenix / about 11 years ago / 1

    How about different classes for GPS guided bots?

  • S&T Grad / about 11 years ago / 1

    For those of us not familiar with last year's rules, could we get a link to those just for reference?

  • Jasmine2501 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Call me excited :) Last year was a total blast and I only flipped a switch on one flight. This year I plan to bring an aircraft of my own. Maybe a plane and a hex-copter, we'll see what's ready!

    However, at the 2013 event there were serious safety concerns, which you might not even be aware of. I would appreciate it if you guys could come out to some of our RC aircraft events and see how we do safety. I don't want anyone to get hit with a plane - trust me, it would be the end of this contest, and potentially the end of Spark Fun. Wrongful deaths can be really expensive. I trust the contest is insured in some way?

    Anyway, if you want to see how to do an aircraft event safely, please come out to our club for some of our events this year. Feel free to contact me directly if you need help - I'm not a club officer any more but I was for many years and would love to help with this. I think it's unwise to make the contest any more difficult without addressing this safety issue.

    BTW, a huge safety issue was the planes could not be reliably seen through the whole course - flying UAVs beyond line of sight is currently illegal. You gotta cut down those trees or give the pilots a more reasonable location to stand.

    Our club - My email -

    • Ted M / about 11 years ago / 2

      Regarding the trees, in their defense, somebody there could see the UAVs at any given time. That and I don't think that the Boulder Reservoir would agree to chop down all the trees just for the AVC.

      • Jasmine2501 / about 11 years ago / 1

        Sure yeah, but if that was the condition at any RC event sanctioned by the AMA in the US, that event would be shut down. The things we do to keep people safe at RC events are very simple to do, you just have to do it. Safety procedures don't cost anything to implement, but you do have to inform people and do some simple setup things. And, I'm talking about things that RC hot doggers tolerate at every event, so nobody will be bothered by it.

    • Jasmine2501 / about 9 years ago / 1

      BTW, I was right about this!

      "For 2015 we've decided to limit the competition to ground vehicles only. Sad but true - for safety and liability reasons (we can hear those of you who narrowly escaped beheading by rogue quadcopter last year nodding like lunatics), there will be no aerial competition this year. "

  • Member #13003 / about 11 years ago / 1

    For fixed wing aircraft I'd like to see an Acrobatics contest out over the lake. IE the big boys have a known sequence fly one of them See :



  • rmackay9 / about 11 years ago / 1

    I'm really looking forward to it. Go crazy with the difficulty for VTOLs. We're up for any challenge. image recognition, object avoidance, inverted flight, follow the leader..whatever you want.

  • So I have to ask. Where do hovercraft fit in all of this? ;)

    And ground effect vehicles?

  • Accipiter / about 11 years ago / 1

    "... We are also going to create separate classes for fixed wing and quadcopters."

    What! I for one protest! How can we allow such discrimination against those designs that are both multicopter and fixed-wing?

    IMAV 2011 Tilt-Wing


    IAI Panther

    Orange Hawk VTOL

    Peter / foamandtape's X-19


    A lot more VTOLs

    Fight VTOL discrimination! :)


    • Hoobert / about 11 years ago / 1

      This also discriminates against airships, which are nether! This means I can't enter my hypothetical auto-blimp.

      • We're hoping to avoid any outsized manatee incidents.

        • Hoobert / about 11 years ago / 1

          Nah those are easy to fix

          • ಠ_ಠ

            • Hoobert / about 11 years ago / 1

              I assumed you were talking about runaway non-rigid airships. Shooting a manatee with a pellet rifle is a very bad Idea.

              • I was more thinking about how the main problem with the Hindenburg was that it exploded...

                • Hoobert / about 11 years ago / 1

                  Yeah noone uses hydrogen anymore. Helium is the gas of choice now. Plus making the hull out of thermite is also a bad idea. Wouldn't use highly reactive gasses around anything that can throw a spark unless I wanted fire.

                  • MikeGrusin / about 11 years ago / 2

                    I beg to differ; some of us are around here are fans of hydrogen for HABs etc. It isn't a finite (and dwindling) resource like helium, is cheaper, has 10% more lift, and is quite safe with common-sense precautions.

                • Just ban the use of pure hydrogen. Helium all the way!

      • Accipiter / about 10 years ago / 1

        All fun and bantor, but seriously; I'm not getting any response as to which class to enter my VTOL in. So, I'm going to enter it in the Multicopter class and lay waste to all the other contestants, and that is totally fine since my design is technically a multicopter. (A multicopter that can fly at 35 m/s.)

  • Eric15 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Ideas for making the aerial competition more challenging (and even more entertaining): 1. Burning rings 2. Anti-aircraft fire (possibly re-purpose the atrium nerf-launcher?)

    • Yep, that's what we've got to come up with. I remember back when we came up with the wicket, tennis ball drop, etc, and we all thought that it would be too hard. But you guys crushed it, so it's going to be harder, and maybe a bit more creative. Don't worry.

      • LightManCA / about 11 years ago / 1

        My mind went to Quidditch, and the golden snitch. Pit their UAV technology against yours, in having to "catch" (or some other goal involving close contact with) a drone you create.

    • ME heat o nator / about 11 years ago / 1

      A swinging pendulum and a golden key to retrieve for the vehicle?!?

  • I take it the vehicle portion will remain mostly the same since it wasn't mentioned here?

    Also, is one vehicle able to complete in multiple classes?

    • Correct, the ground portion will remain largely the same. I'm thinking the ground course itself might be identical (with maybe a few new obstacles or something possibly), but I think it worked well last year, and we already have the dimensions set and such.

      • BOLO_Mark_I / about 11 years ago / 1

        Maybe an object for a ground vehicle to retrieve and extra points for finding and delivering it to the team lead after crossing the finish line?

        • OOH, that's interesting. But, if we have 5 teams going at once, how would all 5 teams be able to do this?

          • BOLO_Mark_I / about 11 years ago / 1

            I think several options exist. You could have 1 object per heat and first bot to capture it wins points and would then have to locate its team lead after crossing the finish line, approach and stop in front of the team lead for extra points. Or (more difficult) you could have an object assigned to each team for them to retrieve from different locations. From what I've seen, the vehicles get dispersed pretty quickly in the heat. But avoiding other vehicles is part of the challenge. It is up to the designers to choose and implement a mechanism to grab or pickup an object. The object cant be too big or heavy or the small bots couldn't attempt it or too small to locate. I'm thinking something like a Rubiks cube. Big enough and colorful enough to locate but won't roll away to easily. Since this would add time to locate and pickup, the points awarded should be worth the effort and might allow a differentiation between the purely fast machines and slower machines with more functionality. Right now the fast machines rule the AVC ground competition.

      • Wayne / about 11 years ago / 1

        I think the new venue is great and my daughter and I (QED & Johnny 5) both really enjoyed last year's race. One suggestion: I think the hoop could use some type of color "glyph" to aid in visually tracking it, as it's small outline makes it hard to pick up on camera. Some of use have considered using visual clues for navigation, but the hoop is really hard to see. So, please consider adding something, such as a big green dot, at the top of the hoop, as this would make for a fairly simple addition for visual tracking, but wouldn't interfere with those just working off GPS, or dead reckoning.

        • hum, good call.

          I would like to point out that the inner barrels were red, and spaced out evenly, so those could be used as well...

          • Wayne / about 11 years ago / 1

            Yes, the barrels and ramp are really perfect, as is. Just need a "hint" on the hoop.

    • sgrace / about 11 years ago / 1

      I wouldn't worry too much about that right now. They haven't chosen the date/time yet, or the modified rules/classes. I'd just hold on tight.

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